Ice Caps Melting

By Jessica Curley and Kylie Shaw

What are ice caps and glaciers?

An ice cap is a mass of ice that covers less than 50,000 km of land, and ice sheets are when the mass is over 50,000 km. They form primarily in the polar and sub-polar regions that are relatively flat and high in elevation. Glaciers are made up of fallen snow that over many years compresses into large thickened ice masses. Ten percent of land area is covered with glaciers, ice caps, and ice sheets.

How does ice caps melting change climate?

When ice caps melt it causes an increase in temperature. It also causes sea levels to rise and thats a result of both thermal expansion of the oceans and melting of most mountain glaciers. CO2 gets trapped in the atmosphere and that causes severe sunlight and heat shining on Earth and that results in global warming.

What are the consequences of ice caps melting?

Since 1995 the ice shelfs area has shrunk by 40%. The ice caps contain 70% of the worlds fresh water. Over the past decade we have lost millions of square miles of perennial sea ice which causes sea levels to rise dramatically. The overall temperature increases including the atmosphere and the water in the oceans, and that results in death of arctic life, like: polar bears, seals, and whales. As the temperature of the water increases, the ocean naturally expands. All of these little contributions are all part of Global Warming.

Why do melting ice caps matter?

When water freezes it expands and this causes an increase of 9% by volume and its ice is lighter so it has more density as salt water than fresh water. So when glaciers melt we lose the freshwater inside the glacier and when the freshwater goes into the ocean it contributes to global sea rise because it pushes down the heavier salt water. Another reason it matters is because we lose our arctic life, records have been shown that many polar bears have drowned because their sea ice platforms (aka habitat) is now all gone and they have no where else to go, and that gives them fewer hunting opportunities and scarcity of food.

What can we do?

We can reduce our energy use and improve efficiency. The ice caps melting is all based off the release of carbon dioxide when fossil fuels such as oil and coal are burned for energy. So when we save energy it contributes to helping fight the melting of ice caps and we save money. It is possible to make a change.